A Healthier Workday
Spending seven-plus hours a day surrounded by tasty temptations in your workplace? Follow our plan to make your workweek a healthier one.
In some workplaces, healthy living is the name of the game—with wholesome break-room snacks, on-site gyms, and desk setups that encourage good posture and frequent movement. But most offices are a minefield of conference-room doughnuts and client gifts such as fatty popcorn or decadent chocolate. And let’s not talk about the giant bowl of candy on the reception desk and the leftover Halloween candy your colleagues hauled in from home. Combine all that with sitting in a chair the entire day, and you’re not looking at many chances for fostering good health at work.
But since you spend the majority of the day at your job, having a strategy for staying healthy is a must. Follow our seven-point plan.
Begin with a good breakfast. Starting the morning right can help reduce hunger pangs throughout the day. Aim for a combination of whole grains, protein, and healthy fat. A good breakfast can also give you the concentration you need in the conference room without reaching for a powdered doughnut.
Pack a healthful lunch. You’ll need a mix of carbohydrates and protein to help sustain you for the rest of the day. “Your body uses carbs for energy first,” says Marisa Sherry, MS, RD, a nutritionist in private practice in New York City. “Pair carbs with protein, and you’ll help slow digestion, keeping you fuller for longer,” she says. Her recommendation is to combine hummus, turkey, or grilled chicken with sprouts, carrots, and cucumber on flatbread. Taking a few minutes at night or in the morning to pull together a packed lunch will save you from making poor meal choices on the fly.
Make smart restaurant picks. Okay, sometimes you forget to pack lunch or don’t have the time or groceries to prepare it. If you order out, be on the lookout for hidden fats in sandwiches and salads. “Ask for dressings and sauces on the side,” Sherry suggests. If you’re short on time, the Rapid Pick-Up service at Panera Bread® makes it easy to enjoy your favorite meal from the bakery-cafe with no lines and no wait. Place and pay for your order online, choose a time, and your food will be fresh and ready for you when you arrive. Just look for the bag marked with your name on the Rapid Pick-Up shelf, grab it, and go.
Don’t dine at your desk. It’s easy to overeat when you’re munching in front of a computer. “Chewing is a stress reliever,” Sherry says. If you must eat at your desk, split your meal in half so you’ll be forced to stop and take your hand off the mouse. “Use that moment to ask yourself, ‘Am I still hungry?’” If the answer is no, put the rest of your meal in the fridge for tomorrow.
Keep yourself hydrated. The body confuses thirst for hunger. To combat that tendency, set a timer for every 30 minutes. When the buzzer goes off, get a drink from the watercooler. Bonus: Stepping away for a moment will actually give you a different perspective on your work when you get back.
Short-circuit the vending-machine habit. Before you raid your wallet for quarters, ask yourself what you really want. Is your stomach growling? If the answer is yes, then have a snack. Make sure your desk drawer is stocked with nutritious fare like whole grain crackers, healthy trail mix, dried fruit, instant oatmeal, and unsalted nuts. Do you just need an excuse to get up out of your chair? Take a lap around the office instead.
Treat yourself every once in a while. When Halloween candy sits on every desk at the office, give yourself permission to enjoy some. With one caveat: Instead of standing at someone’s desk and grazing, pick up a small handful—and walk away.